Public Programs

The Friends of Laurel Hill produce over 100 innovative programs year-round to engage visitors with our historic sites. These programs reflect all aspects of our organization and revenue raised supports the mission of promoting, protecting, and preserving the cemeteries.

Death Acceptance and Education

Through Death Acceptance and Education programming, we create the opportunity for guests to engage in open and informed dialogue around death and dying. From virtual and in-person Death Cafés to cornerstone programs with industry vanguards such as Caitlin Doughty, who popularized the term “death positivity” and Cole Imperi, we strive to increase awareness around the topic of death and open the conversation to discussing death with others through education and public forums.

Cinema in the Cemetery

Pack a picnic, gather friends, and enjoy an evening under the stars. As the sun sets on the historic tombs of our cemeteries, the joys of the most unique movie experience in the region will come to life. Presented in conjunction with the Philadelphia Film Society, we guarantee that this is one outdoor movie experience you’ll never forget!

General History Tours

The Friends of Laurel Hill began their public programming with tours of Laurel Hill East, and general history tours continue to be offered at both locations every month, year-round. Hot Spots & Storied Plots is the general history tour of Laurel Hill East and Sacred Spaces & Storied Places is the general history tour of Laurel Hill West. These tours are the perfect introduction for anyone who enjoys beautiful art, scenic nature, and fascinating history.

Thematic Tours

In addition to general history tours, we offer thematic tours that are as varied as those buried here. Our horticulture staff lead seasonal arboretum tours and tour guides share illuminating stories of our residents, highlighting love (and not-quite-love) stories for Valentine’s Day, connections to Philadelphia’s brewing history with Pints and Plots, and remembering those who served the United States over the course of history, among many more hot topics.

Virtual Programming

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to expand our audiences beyond the physical boundaries of our cemeteries and we continue to host virtual tours of the cemeteries and lectures highlighting our horticultural endeavors and history.

The Friends of Laurel Hill present free virtual programs year-round on topics such as history, horticulture, end of life planning and death awareness, author lectures, and more. To watch recordings of past programs, click here.

Boneyard Bookworms Book Club

The official book club of Laurel Hill. The club will meet once per month on the grounds of Laurel Hill East or Laurel Hill West.

There is no fee to join or attend but registration for each session is required. To offer a unique perspective, each month’s discussion will be led by a different representative of one of the cemeteries whose areas of interest and expertise vary.

Autumn Activities

Though our cemeteries are beautiful to visit all year, fall in the cemeteries is unparalleled. From mid-September through early November, visitors can enjoy outdoor theatre, the Rest in Peace 5K, Soul Crawl nighttime history tours, True Tales from the Tombs where actors portray Laurel Hill’s permanent residents, and fun for the whole family at Fall Family Day. The Friends also host the Gravediggers’ Ball every October, which is the largest fundraising event for the cemeteries.